Impact of vegetation feedback on the response of precipitation to antecedent soil moisture anomalies over North America

Yeonjoo Kim, Guiling Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies support a positive soil moisture-precipitation feedback over a major fraction of North America; that is, initial soil moisture anomalies lead to precipitation anomalies of the same sign. To investigate how vegetation feedback modifies the sensitivity of precipitation to initial soil moisture conditions over North America, a series of ensemble simulations are carried out using a modified version of the coupled Community Atmosphere Model-Community Land Model (CAM-CLM). The modified CLM includes a predictive vegetation phenology scheme so that the coupled model can represent interactions between soil moisture, vegetation, and precipitation at the seasonal time scale. The focus of this study is on how the impact of vegetation feedback varies with the timing and direction of initial soil moisture anomalies. During summer, wet soil moisture anomalies lead to increase in leaf area index and, consequently, increase in evapotranspiration and surface heating. Such increases tend to favor precipitation. Therefore, under wet summer soil moisture anomalies, the soil moisture-induced precipitation increase is reinforced when predictive phenology is included. That is, the vegetation feedback to precipitation is positive. The response of vegetation to dry soil moisture anomalies in the summer months, however, is not significant due probably to a dry bias in the model, so the resulting vegetation feedback on precipitation is minimal. To soil moisture anomalies in spring, the leaf area index (LAI) response is delayed since LAI is still limited by cold temperature at that time of the year. During the summer following wet spring soil moisture anomalies, vegetation feedback is negative; that is, it tends to suppress the response of precipitation through the depletion of soil moisture by vegetation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-550
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jun

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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